What is God Doing?

On Sunday, March 18th, I preached on Jesus Feeding the 5,000 from Mark’s Gospel.  One of the main things I proposed is that reason and logic are limited, and that they are even presented as a contrast to Faith.  Obviously, Faith and Reason can go together but we often put reason above faith, just as some put emotion above faith.  The disciples did the math and realized how much work it would take to pay for food for a crowd of that size.  The answer, though, was found in trusting Jesus, not the math or thinking ability, but in their “believing” ability.

Math won’t help you explain the Trinity.  Physics won’t help you explain how God’s Spirit works.  Biology won’t explain how God’s Spirit dwells inside of you.

At Tulsa I heard some great sermons about Faith and Risk (not the board game) and about passionately living for Christ.

I had some great conversations about the Holy Spirit and the limitations of science. I heard testimonies of people overcoming by the power of the Spirit and seeking to be led by the Spirit without blandly explaining away all the many (really, lots) of scriptures in the New Testament about the Spirit.

I had a neat discussion about spiritual warfare/spirits and God’s presence/communication at a Chinese restaurant on Friday.  I mention it was Chinese food because my fortune cookie “fortune” gave me chills and stopped me in my tracks.  It connected about three things we had been discussing AND what was in my heart.

One week after preaching on faith over reason, I heard a great sermon by Terry Rush.  He talked about how we miss what God is doing because we are looking for patterns.  He said, “the only pattern is that there is no pattern.” We assume He will do what He has always done in the same way.  Then he proceeded to survey many events in Luke’s gospel where God and Jesus shocked and surprised people with their stories and actions.

I then had time to kill and “ended up” at a hip, emerging assembly and heard another good lesson about “Why I don’t always feel God’s Presence.”  A very balanced and Biblical sermon that grounded, but in no way contradicted, everything else I had heard and thought during the week.

So, What is God doing?  What’s next?  Will I fall back into the slavery of my to-do list and forget to listen for his voice?  Will I become overwhelmed with the burden of ministry and wait till Tulsa 2013 before responding to God by Faith?

Two years ago I enjoyed meeting Ed Fudge at Tulsa and then read his book, “The Sound of His Voice.” Then I came home and it was business as usual.

About 5 years ago, after finishing a research paper on the Holy Spirit and praying about it, my past finally caught up with my present as I crashed and burned.  It was a turning point in my life.  I was side-tracked and needed to be redirected.

I believe God orchestrated my past week, but what will I do with it?  Will I be hoping for change after Tulsa next year?  5 years from now, will I still be at the same plateau in my walk with God?

And not to be so self-centered, what about you?


Happy New Year

Well, I haven’t blogged much and don’t promise anything for 2012 but wanted to start off the year looking ahead.

I can’t wait til Tulsa.  I love my week at Camp.  I know sometime this year we will visit family down south and that is always great.

I am preaching through Mark’s Gospel, and will begin a study of Ephesians on Wednesday nights later in January.  I will probably also teach an Intro to the Bible class this summer.

I got some good books with Christmas money and hope to read more this year than last.  In addition to working my way through the Sherlock Holmes stories, I plan to read “Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes” (already started), “Paul through Middle Eastern Eyes”, “The Celtic Way of Evangelism”, “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, the “Philosophy of Horror”, “Men, Women, and Chainsaws” and more.

I also got a new camera so I may turn my blog into a foto blog at some point.  At least expect some pictures, maybe more pics than posts.

For example: Click for a full view.


More Tulsa Workshop Highlights

Of all the great lessons I heard while in Tulsa two stick out.

A lesson on the Prodigal Son and Luke 15 covered all the bases and was beautiful.  It really didn’t tell me new facts that I did not know.  I knew about the woman needing coins for her wedding.  I knew it was shameful for a Father/male to run, therefore exposing his legs.  I had preached the same things but this sermon was just wonderful from beginning to end and helped me to appreciate God’s love for sinners/us.

The other one was not a part of the Workshop program but a Sunday morning sermon. Edward Fudge, who recently finished a commentary on Hebrews, preached on Jesus from Hebrews.  He focused on 4 Psalms that are prominent in Hebrews, each one making a point about Jesus.  It was fantastic.

If Tulsa detractors could listen to these lectures without knowing who the speaker was (and therefore, all they have preached “wrong”, and what their church does or doesn’t do), I think they would be surprised and edified.  Too bad some have written many out of God’s story.

There were many other great lessons.  I enjoyed hearing friends Trey Morgan and John Dobbs speak.  Trey spoke on taking risks for God and John spoke on dealing with grief and helping others.  Both messages were encouraging and practical and solid.

And then there was the fellowship. The first day at lunch I laughed so hard my face hurt.  Amanda Sanders (one of the funniest humans I know) was stalking Randy Harris. Gallagher, Tucker, James Jones, and Trent Tanaro were cracking wise and telling stories about anything and everything.

The following day at lunch was when we had a neat God-moment after laughing and telling stories again.  Gallagher recounts the story well here if you haven’t heard it yet. Jennifer, we do continue to pray for you and your family (in case you read this).

Friday evening, about 40 bloggers and family and friends ate in the same room and got to visit and take pictures.  Maybe next year we will be better organized, but it was still fun.

It was great to see old friends and make new ones.  I was edified by the preaching and relaxed by the laughter.  I was encouraged by the fellowship.  I hope to be back next year.  I hope you can be there, too.

For those who attended, what were your favorite moments?

some blog banquet attendees

Overheard in Tulsa

Actual quotes and tweets overheard during the Tulsa Workshop this year:

  • “the issue with prayer is not faith but submission”–Randy Harris
  • “there is a time to be obedient to bad decisions in order to learn obedience” -Randy Harris
  • “We don’t assemble so that God will like us for another week” -Patrick Mead
  • “We can never restore that which God never gave us” -Patrick Mead
  • Rick Atchley on Luke 15-Prodigal Son (one of my favs of the week)
    • “We do we always write people out of God’s story”
    • “Why does Jesus party with the wrong kind of people?”
    • “The way we portray our faith is a direct reflection of our portrait of God”
  • “God was the first risk-taker” -Trey Morgan
  • “Grace is not ‘gap insurance'” -Al Maxey
  • “If creating a Christian nation could be accomplished, we would all be Israelites” -Jeff Walling
  • “Jesus gave God what He had always wanted but never received” -Edward Fudge
  • “Does worship make one holy or does holiness make one worship?”- Chris Gallagher
  • “chicken barf”-one of the Sanders boys
  • “@rustydush meeting you was one of my highlights, right after stealing a hair of Randy Harris for my scrapbook.”-Steve Tucker
  • “This morning, Krispy Kreme donuts. If they kill me, I’ll see Jesus, if I survive, I’ll see Patrick Mead. Win-win” -Steve Tucker
  • “Your tweeps will be my tweeps, whither thou tweeteth I shall retweet” -John dobbs
  • “It’s because ‘I’m HOT’!” -Amanda Sanders
  • Coffee? anyone got coffee?  COOFFFEEEEEEE!” -Trent Tanaro

What did I leave out?

What a Ride! Tulsa 2010

What a ride, indeed!  And I am not even referring to my travel experiences.

The Tulsa Workshop was great.  I needed it.  The speakers were maybe half of it.  The fellowship the other half.

While not growing up in a perfect family, there were three preachers and each one was a joke-teller and occasional cut-up.  My family liked to laugh.  Laughter helped us through hard times.  I feel so bad for the people (Christians or not) who have only met sober, stone-faced preachers who never crack a smile unless they are preaching on hell and damnation.

I am so glad that so many of the crazy preachers I have met online and got to visit with in Tulsa are also Christians who like to laugh and joke.  My  face physically hurt on numerous occasions after joking and telling stories around a table.  I believe years were added to my life.  That’s probably the strength that helped me get through another interesting day of travel on Sunday.

But these men aren’t just comics and jokesters.  We prayed together.  We prayed with total strangers.  We encouraged one another in our faith.  We worshipped together and learned together.  We talked about the great lessons we heard from other godly men we might not know as well.

Tulsa gives me a great picture of a great family that I wish all churches could emulate. Eating together often.  Sharing our lives.  Serving together.  Excited about worship and hearing God’s Word.

I don’t know if I will be back next year, but I will be back at some point.

God bless you all.  I can’t wait to see you again.  And if there is a rowdy and obnoxious table in Heaven, I can’t wait to see you there, too.

Stay tuned.  More Tulsa blogging to come all week.